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Malaria

did you know?

Malaria causes up to 200 million infections worldwide and approximately half a million deaths each year. In Australia, almost all cases of malaria are acquired whilst travelling with an average of 300-400 cases reported every year.

Malaria - What is it?

Malaria is an infection of the blood caused by Plasmodium parasites which are transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

People who get malaria can become very sick with flu-like illness, including high fevers and shaking chills.

If the infection is not treated, it can cause serious illness and death.

Malaria - What is it?

Most cases of malaria occur in large parts of Africa, however they also occur in Central and South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific.6 Anyone travelling to areas where malaria is present are at risk of getting the disease, especially those who are spending time outdoors (including sleeping outside), if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

All travellers, including people returning to their home country to visit family and friends, should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, as this is the first measure that helps protect against getting malaria.

Other people may be at risk of malaria infection. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Malaria - How is it spread?

Mosquitoes become infected with the parasite when they bite an infected person.  They then transmit the parasite to other people through biting (taking a blood meal), which usually happens between sunset and sunrise.

Malaria - What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of malaria usually appear within in 7-30 days, but they can develop many months after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms are usually similar to the flu and fever and can include chills, headaches, muscle pain and generally feeling unwell. If malaria is not treated quickly, symptoms may become more severe and without any treatment it can to lead death.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following malaria infection. If you feel unwell while travelling or when you return home, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.

Malaria – Prevention

The best way to reduce the risk of malaria is by taking  the following two measures:

1. Preventing mosquito bites (particularly between sunset and sunrise, when mosquitoes are most active):

  • cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats
  • use an appropriate insect repellent as directed
  • use an insecticide-treated bed net

2. Taking specific medicines to prevent malaria:

  • There are prescription medicines you can take to prevent malaria. Talk to your doctor about which medicine is best for you.
  • Take this medicine before, during, and after your trip as directed by your doctor.
Malaria – Treatment

It is important that treatment for malaria is started as soon as possible. Malaria treatment can differ depending on a number of factors such as:

  • disease severity
  • the type of parasite and where the person was infected
  • any existing medical conditions
  • if the person is taking and/or has allergies to any medication
  • pregnancy

It is important to plan ahead and see your doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel to discuss vaccination and travel health.

 

Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with a healthcare professional.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

 

AUS/VAC/0023/15. Date of approval: April 2015.